Weekend update

I’m going to change up this blog format from this point forward, and issue regular Monday updates, Lord willing. They’ll be more of just an update on what happened on the farm in the last week, rather than an essay or short article format. That should make this job easier and hopefully, more consistently done. All for you, dear readers.

Last week it was our (Nancy and I’s) intention to tap our maple trees. Wednesday I was in meetings all day, so could not take advantage of the sharp uptick in temps. Just as well, I don’t think much would have flowed in the next few days. So we finally got ‘er done yesterday afternoon. Beautiful weather, sunny and cool. We tapped all but 3 trees – and ran out of buckets. 🙁  Some mis-planning there. There are still those 3 plus another few we could do as well, so we’re going to source some buckets this week and try again.

Mike and I got the sugaring setup done – installing the stovepipe (ducts) in our boiler (55-gallon drum) and fitting the evaporator (6″ deep hotel pans). It fired up quickly with plenty of draft. I need to pick up some fire brick and sand this week, and some kind of insulation to plug the myriad holes that smoke was leaking out of. Still, for a DIY hack setup, it’s gonna work for us.

All our seeds are ordered and received (excepting asparagus crowns, I think, and some that won’t arrive until later in the spring), and Annie started planting tomatoes this week. Which means that as soon as sugaring is over, it’s on to fixing up the greenhouse, which has seen better days. We need to replace one side wall, replace a bunch of glass panes, add auto-venting, replace the roof, move tables around, build shelves, run electric. It’s gonna be a big job, but will be key to getting our seedlings going and in the ground as soon as possible.

We’re also gonna be building 2 hoop houses / caterpillar tunnels / high tunnels, or whatever you want to call them. I’ll probably use the terms interchangeably. We’ll put up two 50′ tunnels this spring, and depending on how it goes, maybe more later in the summer. The intention is to have heat-loving plants in there earlier in the spring (like those tomatoes!) and to extend the season later into the fall, just by capturing solar radiation. There’s a possibility of an organic heat source that Mike has found; we’ll experiment and report later on. We are on the fence between building the tunnels ourselves using off-the-shelf materials, or buying a kit to save the time and design effort. We have the money for either, we need to come to a consensus as a team first.

Jan has been doing a weekly-or-so session with us on marketing. She’s been taking a course, and distilling what she’s learned for us, helping us to get a better understanding of who we are, what we stand for, how to communicate that to potential customers, how to have productive markets. We’re excited about the future of Maple Dell Farm and look forward to being at the market(s) this year! Nancy applied us to the Hudson Farmer’s Market; still waiting to hear back.

Hoping you all have a productive week!

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